FIFA 2022 Men’s World Cup: A clash with the traditional football calendar and its repercussions

November 13, 2021

The largest bid for the 2022 FIFA Men’s World Cup was put in by Qatar, who consequently won the rights to host the tournament. However, the playing conditions in the region during the summer months, when the World Cup typically takes place, are dreadful due to the weather.

With players being unable to perform at their best in such conditions, it would have been impractical to host the Qatar World Cup during June and July. Hence, FIFA decided to host the tournament during November and December 2022.

However, this decision has certainly not gone down well with several leagues due to various reasons. This piece seeks to throw some light on the complications that could arise due to the World Cup dates.


Premier League dates announced

The Premier League recently announced the dates for the 2022/23 campaign in accordance with the winter World Cup.

The 2022/23 Premier League is set to commence on the 6th of August, a week earlier than usual, and conclude on the 28th of May, a week later than usual.

The Premier League has announced that it will be on break from the 13th of November until Boxing Day, when it will resume. This, of course, has a bearing on the players, the fans, and the football fraternity as a whole.


Player fatigue 

Of course, one issue that we noticed with the players during the COVID-hit season was that of fatigue and tiredness. The fixtures scheduled in a cramped manner to accommodate all league games put the players at severe risk of injuries.

The upcoming campaign seems to be relentless as well. Players must play their domestic league, domestic cup competitions, possibly European competitions and remain present on international duty. Without a doubt, one can expect a few injuries.


Preparation for the World Cup

The summer break generally sees players going away with their respective international teams and having an extended preparation period for international tournaments. However, under the current circumstances, both players and coaches have a mere week to prepare for a tournament as big as the World Cup.

In today’s era, where coaches complain of not having a complete pre-season programme, it would be futile to assume they would be satisfied with only a week’s worth of training and preparation.


Culture and tradition

Football is a sport that embraces cultures and traditions. Fans are basically made a part of clubs, and they treat their players as one of their own.

Typically, the months of November and December constitute the holiday season that sees the most number of games played, particularly in the Premier League. Fans look forward to football during these months as it constitutes the peak season for the league, and they can witness their clubs compete every other day. Managers are tested, and the depth of the squad is put into question during the phase. Many would argue that the team that comes through during this phase is the one most likely to win the title come May.

However, during the 2022/23 campaign, traditions and examination of teams will be absent given the World Cup dates.


League form post resumption

In football, the international break often seems to come at the wrong time for at least one club. These breaks can punctuate the high-flying form that a club may be exhibiting before the break. Typically, international breaks take away one week of league football.

Because such short breaks can damage league form for teams, a six-week break would undoubtedly bring some unprecedented changes. Aston Villa executive Christian Purslow recently came out expressing his concern for players and Premier League clubs due to the schedule.

Clubs and managers would have to deal with players taking part in the World Cup and have to get things going from scratch. The situation mimics the traditional summer break when players go away for international duty and return for pre-season training. However, players will have little time to train with their clubs; a mere week will be provided to jump back into the madness.


FIFA going full throttle 

Unfortunately for the traditionalists in our footballing fraternity, FIFA has also proposed a biennial World Cup. Premier League clubs have already come out and rejected the idea, slamming down any chances of messing with the football calendar, player welfare, and fans’ interests. They have not only opposed this particular idea but have also shut down any ideas that could potentially extend the international window.


Quality of competition

In light of the proposal made by FIFA and, of course, the current state of affairs concerning the World Cup, there could potentially be a huge effect on the quality of the sport itself, not only at club level but also at the international level.

Factoring in the issues mentioned above, there could be a strong argument favouring the negative impact on the quality of competition around the world. Hence, it is critical to ensure that such radical decisions in the future are duly rejected.


Could smaller clubs benefit?

The hefty schedule for the upcoming season could allow the so-called smaller clubs to even out the competition in major leagues. For instance, a club like Newcastle United would have fewer players going out for international duty than some big boys such as Manchester City and Liverpool. With fresher players, some of the smaller clubs could close in on the big clubs.

In no way is this a suggestion that the smaller clubs would go ahead of the bigger clubs, but merely an argument in favour of cutting down the gap to some of the bigger clubs in the top five leagues of Europe.


Final say

Although a bleak argument could exist favouring closer competition in leagues, the idea in no way trumps the rest of the severe repercussions that the clubs, the fans, and, most importantly, the players would face due to the tight schedule.

With the Qatar World Cup all set to take place as per schedule and leagues planning their dates around the tournament, the football fraternity has no choice but to accept the changes in the 2022/23 campaign.

However, if such schedules do not benefit football on a larger scale, there is enough reason to oppose similar international proposals that rip up the domestic calendar. The Premier League has already shut down bizarre suggestions of a biennial men’s World Cup, and it is a near certainty that other leagues would follow suit.


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